International tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka dropped following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks and still have not recovered after nine months, government data show.
The number of international tourist arrivals in December 2019 was 4.5% lower than that of the previous December.
Data from the tourism ministry show that 241,663 tourists arrived in December 2019 compared to 253,169 in December 2018.
Industry leaders say not launching promotions right after the blast was a key factor in the slow progress.
“If the promotions had commenced on time, soon after the April blast, we could have achieved at least last year’s numbers,” said Sri Lanka City Hotels Association President M. Shanthikumar.
The overall foreign tourist inflow in 2019 was only 1.9 million compared to 2.3 million in the previous year, data show.
“We are not at all satisfied with this number. The inflow is down by 400,000 compared to the previous year,” Shanthikumar told ucanews. He said not only small and medium enterprises, “but even the star class hotels are not making money because of lack of demand.”
However, arrivals increased considerably after recording a massive 70% drop in May 2019. The drop followed the April 21 suicide attack on churches and hotels that killed 259 people, including 45 foreign nationals.
Tourist arrivals then began to gradually improve over the past months compared to the same period last year. The drop was 9.5% in November, 22.5% in October, 27.7% in September, 28% in August, 46% in July, and 57% in June, according to government figures.
Overall the decline was only 18% in 2019 compared to arrivals in 2018. The island nation received 1.91 million tourists by the end of 2019, while it had 2.33 million in the previous year.
Most tourists (88%) came from Europe and Asia-Pacific in 2019. Tourists from the Americas formed 9%. The top five countries sending tourists to Sri Lanka were India, United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, China, and Australia.